Fantasyland Archives

November 11, 2013

Magic Kingdom Skyway

Jack Spence is on a leave of absence until 2014. This is a reprint of a blog he wrote several years ago. This blog originally ran in 2009 and was accurate at the time of publication.

The first Disney Skyway opened at Disneyland on June 23, 1956. Walt was so taken by this mode of transportation that he signed an agreement to purchase this attraction from the Von Roll, Ltd. Company without giving any consideration as to where this ride would be located in his park. But Walt thought of the Skyway as more than just a ride. He thought of it as another mode of transportation that could be used to carry people across large parking lots and shopping centers. He wanted to use Disneyland to showcase this idea.

There is a legend that says that part of Walt's inspiration for Disney World came to him while riding the Disneyland Skyway. From the lofty height of sixty feet, he could see outside the park and onto the rush-hour traffic of the Santa Ana Freeway that skirted his property. He knew then that he needed more land so he could shield any future project from the outside world.

There were three Disney Skyways in total, the second opening at the Magic Kingdom on October 1, 1971 (opening day) and the third at Tokyo Disneyland on April 15, 1983 (also on opening day). All three offered one-way rides between Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. The Magic Kingdom's version had the distinction of being the only one that made a turn in the middle of the journey.

It is often reported, incorrectly, that the Magic Kingdom closed the Skyway due to the death of a custodial cast member working on the attraction. Although it is true that Raymond Barlow was accidentally killed while cleaning a narrow Skyway platform, this had nothing to do with the decision to shutter the ride. Disneyland and Tokyo Disneyland had both closed their versions of this attraction before this death occurred. The decision to close all of the Skyways was strictly economical. These attractions were old and expensive to run and maintain. Also, they had low capacities. This made it harder and harder to justify on a "dollar spent per guest ride" basis. Combine this with the constant problem of teenagers spitting and throwing things on the guests below and it's not hard to understand why Disney said "Enough." The Magic Kingdom Skyway closed on November 9, 1999.

The Skyway was a perennial favorite of many people. Even though the line was often long, it was worth the wait once we were airborne and looking down on the many sights below. As you passed other gondolas, you would smile and wave to its passengers. And when you could see the terminus station come into view, you grew sad because you new your flight was almost over.

I have dug through my photo collection and pulled out my Skyway pictures. Please note, some of these pictures are old and of dubious quality. I have also included a video I took in October, 1986. It was shot using one of those old, large, "carry-on-your-shoulder" video cameras of the early 1980's. For many years, this film sat deteriorating on VHS tape until I finally copied it to a DVD. When I electronically extracted it from the DVD so I could share it with you, I lost additional quality. So please forgive this video.

The Fantasyland Station had a Swiss chalet design and yodeling could often be heard in the queue. (1983)

Fantasyland Skyway Station

Leaving the station. (1972)

Fantasyland Skyway

Fantasyland Skyway

Here we see the Columbia Harbour House. (1989)

Fantasyland Skyway

The Mad Tea Party is the the lower left of the picture. (1972)

Fantasyland Skyway

Cinderella's Golden Carousel is dead ahead. (1983)

Fantasyland Skyway

Fantasyland Skyway

Looking back at the Peter Pan attraction. (1989)

Fantasyland Skyway

Down below is Pinocchio Village Haus. (1975)

Fantasyland Skyway

Here is a very old Dumbo attraction -- before a major refurbishment. (1983)

Fantasyland Skyway

An newer Dumbo and the 20,000 Leagues Lagoon. (1989)

Fantasyland Skyway

20,000 Leagues Under the Sea loading area. (1989)

Fantasyland Skyway

The Nautilus. (1983)

Fantasyland Skyway

Tomorrowland Terrace. (1972)

Tomorrowland Skyway

Tomorrowland Terrace and Cinderella Castle. (1972)

Tomorrowland Skyway

Grand Prix Raceway. (1975)

Tomorrowland Skyway

Tomorrowland Skyway

WEDway People Mover and Contemporary Hotel. (1983)

Tomorrowland Skyway

Tomorrowland Transit Authority (TTA) and the Skyway. (1994-95)

Tomorrowland Skyway

Space Mountain and the Contemporary Hotel. (1975)

Tomorrowland Skyway

TTA and Astro Orbiter. (1994-95)

Tomorrowland Skyway

Tomorrowland Skyway Station. (1989)

Tomorrowland Skyway Station

Here's my video of the Skyway shot in October, 1986.

July 9, 2012

The Pinocchio Village Haus in the Magic Kingdom

Jack Spence Masthead

Before I discuss The Pinocchio Village Haus, the counter-service restaurant found in the Magic Kingdom, let me give you a little background about the marionette this eatery honors.

The original story of Pinocchio was written by Carlo Collodi of Italy. His story tells of a woodcarver named Geppetto who carves a marionette and dreams that someday his creation will become a real boy. The name "Pinocchio" means "pine eye" in Italian. The first half of Collodi's story was written as a serial during the years of 1881 and 1882. It was later expanded and completed as a children's book in February 1883 (The Adventures of Pinocchio).

Initially, Collodi did not see children as the primary audience for his story as it dealt with more mature themes such as food, shelter, and the hardships of daily life. In fact, the tale takes on a very adult perspective at the end of the 15th chapter, the last of the serialized version of the story, when Pinocchio is gruesomely hanged for his many faults. It was Collodi's publisher that requested the story be continued and Pinocchio be brought back to life and redeemed. Collodi agreed and introduced the Fairy with Turquoise Hair to perform this magic. It's in the second half of the book that the tale begins to lean more toward children's literature.

Collodi's Pinocchio

"The Adventures of Pinocchio" was brought to Walt's attention in 1937, during the making of "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." Walt read the book and immediately knew he wanted to animate the story. Bambi was to be the studio's second animated movie, but the book was proving difficult to adapt to film and would require more time than expected. The project was put on temporary hold. This opened up a spot for Pinocchio.

In the beginning, the Disney script writers used many of Collodi's characters and plot points as described in his book. But this wasn't working as the original tale was much too harsh. After Walt read some of the early drafts, he became unhappy with the direction the project was taking and put a halt to production until the story and characters could be rethought.

One of the first changes came to Pinocchio himself. Collodi's character was a wisecracking sarcastic individual. He was tall and lanky, had a long pointy nose, and wore a dunce-like hat (see above). Walt realized that audiences would not be sympathetic to such a persona and would probably cheer his hanging. So Walt asked lead animator Milt Kahl to redesign his protagonist.

The revised character looked much more like a real boy. First, Pinocchio went from a tall, adult-like stature to a shorter, child-like height. The dunce cap became a Tyrolean hat. His long, thin nose was transformed into a much smaller and charming feature. And he went from five skinny fingers to four pudgy ones (a typical cartoon character adaptation). Only his arms and legs retained a puppet-like appearance with angular dimensions and joints at the elbows and knees. His personality also went under the knife and Pinocchio emerged as an innocent, naΓ―ve, and caring individual.

Disney's Pinocchio

Jiminy Cricket also went through a transformation. In Collodi's version, Jiminy was a minor character and far more cricket-like in appearance. He was known only as The Talking Cricket and was killed accidentally when Pinocchio threw a hammer at him.

Ward Kimball altered Jiminy' s appearance to resemble a small, dapper man (minus ears). Ward would later say, "The only thing that makes him a cricket is because we call him one."

Jiminy Cricket

"Pinocchio" was released on February 7, 1940 and received generally positive reviews. However, the movie did not make as much money as its predecessor "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs." A large part of the movie's financial failure was due to the outbreak of WWII which cut off the European and Asian markets to American films.

"When You Wish Upon a Star" became a major hit and won an Academy Award for Best Original Score. The melody has since become the representative song of The Walt Disney Company.

Pinocchio Movie Poster

Disney offers copious amounts of information when it comes to the detailing of their rides and attractions. Books have been written on this subject. But when it comes to their restaurants and shops, facts are difficult to come by. This isn't a purposeful withholding of information. Disney just figures that most people really aren't all that interested in this aspect of theme park design. Because of this, I could find precious little "official" information on The Pinocchio Village Haus.

The Pinocchio Village Haus can be found at the back of Fantasyland. This is a major food facility in the Magic Kingdom and feeds thousands of people each day.

Entrance Sign

The original story of Pinocchio was set in the Tuscan region of Italy. So I've always found it interesting that the Imagineers chose Bavarian architecture to house this restaurant. Perhaps it was Pinocchio's newly acquired Tyrolean hat that inspired the Disney film storytellers to move the film's action to Northern Italy and the Alps.

The first three pictures below were taken from the movie "Pinocchio." Here, the architecture hints at an Alpine village. However, the actual buildings of Fantasyland (pictures four and five) have a much stronger German feel than Italian. In addition, the Italian influence of the story is also downplayed at the Magic Kingdom with the inclusion of the German word "Haus" in the restaurant's name.

Pinocchio's Village

Pinocchio's Village

Geppetto's Shop

The Pinocchio Village Haus Magic Kingdom

The Pinocchio Village Haus Magic Kingdom

I think the architecture of Disneyland's Pinocchio attraction and its version of Village Haus Restaurant better captures the mood of the movie.

Pinocchio's Daring Journeys Disneyland

Village Haus Restaurant Disneyland

Despite the fact that the Imagineers used questionable (in my judgment) architecture for The Pinocchio Village Haus, it helps to understand their overall intent when designing Fantasyland. Fantasyland is a make-believe place. It is supposed to represent a quaint European village that encompasses a number of different regions, all protected by the walls of Cinderella Castle. For example, Mickey's PhilharMagic, Peter Pan, and "it's a small world" feature a medieval tournament/tent look while Castle Couture, Sir Mickey's, and Seven Dwarf's Mine exhibit the attributes of English Tudor.

it's a small world

Castle Couture

This next picture is looking above and beyond The Pinocchio Village Haus. If you'll notice, you can see the castle wall surrounding this "village." In addition, more castle walls are being built as part of the new Fantasyland expansion. As part of the backstory, as you pass through these walls, you leave the protection of the castle and enter the "countryside" of Fantasyland. This is where you'll find the Dwarf's Mine, and Beast's and Prince Eric's Castles.

Castle Walls

Castle Walls

It takes a large building to house a counter-service restaurant. However, a structure of this size would not have been found in medieval Europe. So the Imagineers designed the exterior to look like several buildings. This can be seen in the subtle changes in architecture from one "building"οΏ½ to the next and the different colored roofing tiles and shingles.

Upon closer examination, it would appear that some of these structures were designed as places of business while others, dwellings. Of course, during this era, most business owners lived above their shops. The numerous weather vanes atop the roofs would represent the various families living below. The word "Village" in the restaurant's name also helps convey that these are numerous small structures, not one large building.

Building Exterior

Building Exterior

Building Exterior

Building Exterior

Building Exterior

Weather Vanes

While researching this piece, I came across a picture I took from the Skyway in 1975. If you'll notice, the shingles were much less colorful than they are today.

The Pinocchio Village Haus in 1975

Outside of these shops and homes is the village square. This is marked by a fountain/well. Wells were often found in the middle of town and would be the place for the local citizenry to gather, gossip, trade, and obtain fresh water. There are also numerous tables and chairs in this area for outdoor dining.

Village Square

Nearby is a bell tower - and this Disney version contains a real carillon. In days of old, bells were used to sound the hour and announce special events. The carillon at The Pinocchio Village Haus can be heard every quarter hour.

Bell Tower

Bell Tower

Often found near The Pinocchio Village Haus is Stromboli's wagon. Here, you can purchase various Disney-themed souvenirs. However, due to the Fantasyland construction and space constraints, this villain's cart is currently parked backstage.

The Pinocchio Village Haus has entrances on all sides of the building. In most cases, these are used for both in and out access. However, during busy times, cast members will man these doors for better crowd control. The main entrance (pictured below) will be used for entrance only while the side doors for exit only. In addition, people will not be allowed into the dining rooms until they have their food in hand. This may seem rather strange, but it actually helps keep more tables available. If guests are allowed to hold tables while waiting for others in their group to order meals, the table is "out of service" yet not being used for food consumption. Believe it or not, this is in your best interest.

Restaurant Entrance

The ordering area was designed to resemble a large, open-air courtyard (although completely indoors). A lighted ceiling represents the sky and it is lined with tiled and shingled roofs. Timbered walls, stained-glass windows, and ever-blooming flowerboxes complete the appearance of a village square. A stringless Pinocchio looks down from above with food and drink in hand.

Food Ordering Area

Food Ordering Area

Food Ordering Area

Food Ordering Area

The Pinocchio Village Haus has a number of dining rooms, each named for and themed after a particular character. The largest of these is the Stromboli Room.

Stromboli Room

Stromboli Room

Stromboli Room

I have read two different accounts pertaining to the function of this room - given that it exists in a real Alpine village. First, it could be a tavern. This can be deduced by the room's dΓ©cor, the chandeliers, and the mugs and beer steins found on the overhead shelving.



The other account states that this is an "outdoor" puppet theater. This can be reasoned by noticing several different aspects of the room. First, the large stained-glass windows that separate the Stromboli Room from the ordering counters feature marionettes in various poses. Second, the balcony on the other side of the room would be the puppeteer's catwalk --- the area where he would control the marionettes. And finally, a large fresco on the wall which reads, "Stromboli presents Pinocchio the string-less puppet.

Stained Glass Puppet

Stained Glass Puppet


Stromboli Marquee

Since I do not have access to the Imagineers thoughts on the subject, I have no idea which (if either) account is correct. But in the scheme of things, it really doesn't matter. The atmosphere is fun and lively in this room.

Other, smaller dining rooms flank both sides of the ordering area. Each of these rooms pays homage to a different "Pinocchio" character with colorful frescos. These rooms include The Blue Fairy, Geppetto, Cleo, Figaro, Jiminy Cricket, and Monstro. The following two pictures are of the Geppetto Room and the Jiminy Cricket Room, respectively.

Geppetto Room

Jiminy Cricket Room

Take a look at some of the charming frescos found throughout the restaurant. They tell the story of Pinocchio if you take the time to look at them all.

Pinocchio Fresco

Figaro Fresco

Blue Fairy Fresco

Jiminy Cricket Fresco

Geppetto Fresco

Can Can Fresco

Instead of frescos, the Cleo Room features stained glass to give her a watery atmosphere. In addition, the room has a number of cuckoo clocks, something Geppetto enjoyed making.

Cleo Room

Cleo Stained Glass

Cuckoo Clocks

Cuckoo Clocks

J. Worthington Foulfellow (Honest John) and Gideon have not been forgotten and can be seen in this beautiful woodcarving.

J. Worthington Foulfellow (Honest John) and Gideon

Perhaps the most sought after dining area can be found in the Monstro Room. This is because several of the tables in this section of the restaurant sit beside windows that overlook the "it's a small world" loading area. When the restaurant isn't under "crowd control" measures, these are some of the first tables people will hold while others in their group order food.

Monstro Room

Monstro Room

Monstro Room

Monstro Room

it's a small world Loading Area

But for me, the best tables can be found upstairs on the outside balcony. When the weather is nice, this is the perfect spot to enjoy a meal and watch the crowds below.





As with all Disney restaurants, the menu at The Pinocchio Village Haus is constantly changing. However, the offerings usually have an Italian leaning - which works well with the Pinocchio theme. Recently, flatbreads have been added to the menu. I've had the opportunity to try two, the Barbequed Chicken Flatbread and the Caprese Flatbread. Both were quite good and I would definitely order them again.

Barbequed Chicken Flatbread

Caprese Flatbread

I've eaten at The Pinocchio Village Haus a number of times over the years and have always been pleased with the taste and quantity of the food - keeping in mind that this is a counter-service eatery and not a deluxe restaurant. To see the complete menu, click here.

If I have to find fault with this restaurant, it would be that it's a popular place to eat. This means it will be crowded and very noisy if you dine at peak hours. This is another reason I seek out the balcony that only has five tables and is removed from the madding crowds.

The Pinocchio Village Haus usually opens each day at 11:00am. Closing times vary with park hours.

I'm going to end today's blog in a rather unorthodox way - with pictures of my guest bathroom. However, as you will see, it does fit the topic at hand - Pinocchio.

When the Disney Stores first opened, they carried some high-end merchandise as well as traditional souvenirs. One day while browsing the store at Pier 39 in San Francisco, I came across a full-sized, fully functioning marionette of Pinocchio. I didn't have a clue of what I'd do with him, but I knew I had to have him. Somehow, he ended up in my guest bathroom and a collection grew around him.

This first picture is an overall view of my current guest bath.

Overall view of Bathroom

This next picture is a close-up of Pinocchio. The following photo is the ingenious way I figured out how to suspend and display him - from Mickey's glove.


Mickey's Glove

On the counter top I have several pictures and other related Pinocchio pieces.

Counter Pieces

Counter Pieces

These next several photos capture the pieces I've placed above the toilet. Cleo and Figaro are simple plush toys and Cleo has been placed in a cheap goldfish bowl.

Above the Toilet

Cleo and Figaro

Pinocchio Pieces Above the Toilet

Pinocchio Pieces Above the Toilet

On the opposite wall I have a number of 3D plates and pictures of other characters from the film. These pictures are nothing more than drawings I found in a child's book. I framed these drawings with inexpensive frames and ready-cut matting I purchased at an art supply store.

Oppisite Wall

3D Plates

Cheap Pictures

I might be biased, put personally I think I've pulled off a classy bathroom using Disney characters.

People often ask me if Pinocchio is my favorite Disney character since I themed an entire room around him. Not really. I just fell in love with the marionette and had to figure out what to do with it.

Remember, when you wish upon a star, dreams come true.

May 22, 2012

New Fantasyland Model

Jack Spence Masthead

As reported last week in a blog under Disney and Central Florida News, a model of the new Fantasyland expansion is now on Display at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the One Man's Dream exhibit. Since I promised you that I'd keep you posted on any new happenings for this much anticipated development, I stopped by and snapped a few pictures. Most of these are close-ups in an effort to give you a better idea of what this new area will look like when completed.

This first picture is of the entire model. The second is the gateway that will greet guest as they leave the older section of Fantasyland for the new and expanded area.

Model of the New Fantasyland

Entrance to New Fantasyland

This next picture is of Belle's cottage and will house the "Enchanted Tales with Belle" story area.

Belle's Cottage

Although somewhat difficult to make out, you can see the pathway leading up to doors that will enter Beast's Castle and the "Be Our Guest Restaurant."

Beast's Castle

In this next picture we see Belle's village. On the left side will be "Gaston's Tavern" and on the right "Bonjour! Village Gifts."

Belle's Village

To the east of "Bonjour! Village Gifts" is Prince Eric's Castle and the entrance to "Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid."

Prince Eric's Castle

These next several pictures are of "Seven Dwarfs Mine Train."

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

Here we have the entrance to Storybook Circus.

Storybook Circus Entrance

In these next to pictures we see "Dumbo the Flying Elephant" and "The Barnstormer."


The Barnstormer

"Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station" can be seen in the following photo. This is located just beyond the roundhouse (restrooms).

Casey Jr. Splash 'n' Soak Station

The blue tent will house "Big Top Souvenirs" and the orange tent will be the home of "Pete's Silly Sideshow."

Circus Tents

In a separate display, a detailed model of "Under the Sea: Journey of the Little Mermaid" is presented.

Journey of the Little Mermaid Model

Journey of the Little Mermaid Model

After seeing these models, I'm all the more excited about the New Fantasyland. Disney has said that the rest of Storybook Circus will be opening sometime in July. The moment I hear the plywood walls have come down, I'll try to be there and snap more pictures for you all.

If you're visiting Disney World this coming summer, be sure to stop by "One Man's Dream" to check out this wonderful model.

April 25, 2012

Update – Storybook Circus and Sunshine Tree Terrace


I promised that I would make regular trips to the Magic Kingdom to keep you informed of any new additions and updates to Storybook Circus. Well I visited a couple of days ago (April 23, 2012) and nothing new has been opened in this area. Sigh. However, I do have some additional information to share with you.

First, I snapped a couple of pictures of the new "Casey Jr. Splash 'N' Soak Station" currently under construction. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, this water play area will be situated on a train turntable located beside the roundhouse/restrooms. As you can see, construction is well underway.

Casey Jr. Construction

Casey Jr. Engine

Casey Jr. Camel Car

Camel Heads

I asked a Barnstormer cast member if she had any idea when this area would be opening. She told me that Disney is hoping for June, but as with any project, this date is subject to change.

I also asked the cast member if The Barnstormer would eventually be outfitted with FastPass. She confirmed that it would.

The Barnstormer

As you might know, anytime Disney replaces an old attraction with something new, they honor the outgoing ride with some sort of remembrance. For example, inside "The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh" attraction is a portrait of Mr. Toad handing over the deed to Owl.

Well even though "The Barnstormer" is not technically a new ride, but just a retheming of an old attraction, "The Barnstormer at Goofy's Wiseacre Farm" has been honored with a remembrance. If you look behind "The Barnstormer" sign that graces the entrance, you can see the jumbled letters that once read "Wiseacre Farm."

Salute to Wiseacre Farm

Since I had nothing new to report and Storybook Circus was not crowded, I decided to use this opportunity to videotape the rethemed "The Barnstormer." Watching this three minute video might be the shortest you'll ever wait to experience this attraction. Enjoy.

While I was at the Magic Kingdom, I ventured over to Adventureland to check out the recently reopened Sunshine Tree Terrace - and its new/old mascot.

Sunshine Tree Terrace

In 1969, the Florida Citrus Commission became one of the first sponsors to associate itself with a Magic Kingdom attraction: The Sunshine Pavilion which included the Sunshine Tree Terrace and the Enchanted Tiki Room. To help promote citrus products nationwide and a frozen beverage known as the Citrus Swirl sold at the Sunshine Tree Terrace, publicity art designer Don MacLaughlin created the Orange Bird. Although this character only appeared in "live" form at the Magic Kingdom, the Orange Bird became famous nationwide as he appeared on billboards and television ads across the country promoting citrus products. In addition, the Sherman Brothers penned a tune, "The Orange Bird Song" which was recorded by Anita Bryant.

The Florida Citrus Commission ended their sponsorship in 1986 and the Orange Bird slipped into Disney history. However, this character had a resurgence at Tokyo Disneyland in 2004 to coincide with Japan's annual Orange Day celebration held on April 14th.

Orange Bird

Orange Bird

But this character of yesteryear has been brought back to the Magic Kingdom -- well sort of. When the Sunshine Tree Terrace reopened last week, our little friend was added to the refreshment stand's sign. He can also be seen perched at the back of the restaurant with a crate of oranges. According to a recent blog by Kevin Kidney, this Orange Bird is an original artifact from 1971 that had been lost for years and only recently uncovered. In addition, the Citrus Swirl (orange slush with vanilla soft-serve ice cream) has been brought back and added to the menu. To see the complete offerings of the Sunshine Tree Terrace, click here.

Sunshine Tree Terrace Sign

Orange Bird

Orange Bird Mugs

Two Orange Bird t-shirts and a pin can be found at the nearby shop. As the months continue, additional Orange Bird souvenirs will be offered.

Orange Bird t-shirt

Orange Bird t-shirt

Orange Bird Pin

That's it for this update. Even though my regular blogs are posted on Mondays, you never know what you might find from me during the rest of the week. So check in occasionally.

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